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Keywords:

  • Bombus;
  • conservation;
  • cryptic species;
  • mtDNA;
  • restriction enzyme

Abstract

Distinguishing between cryptic species is a perennial problem for biologists. Bombus ruderatus and Bombus hortorum are two species of bumblebee, which can be indistinguishable from their morphology. The former species is in decline, whereas the latter is ubiquitous. In the UK, isolated records of B. ruderatus occur amongst many for B. hortorum. For ecological studies of B. ruderatus to be feasible, the two species need to be reliably distinguishable. We present a diagnostic tool for quick and reliable identification of problematic individuals based on a restriction enzyme digest of the cytochrome b region of mitochondrial DNA.